Rosemary

The last note sang by the choir floated away under the mid-afternoon sun. People came forward one at a time to throw their handful of dirt over the coffin as it was lowered into the ground. It took a bit of time for everyone assembled to say their goodbyes, but before the afternoon’s blue sky deepened into purple, the last mourner left the graveyard.

She of course still lingered, because she was curious about how these sorts of things went.

At first she had no notion that she was separate. One moment she had been inside, and the next moment she was looking at a heavily lined face, all of the wrinkles looking like runes on weathered parchment. She stayed through the whole process of preparing for burial, fascinated by the small changes she could see were still happening, despite the attempts to have something presentable for viewing. Now at the graveyard, she was able to observe the changes hurrying along now that no one cared how the body looked.

She saw the body which looked frail to begin with, waste away further. Leg muscles that had loved to dance shriveled to nothing as the skin around started to drape like a forlorn spider’s web. The small pooch of her belly collapsed in on itself and a miasma filled the coffin. She was most amused by the changes in her face as the skin pulled tight, tugging the wrinkles into disarray, but her smile stayed much the same.

Even though many dawns had come and gone since they had lain her body in the earth, to her it seemed like all of this happened in one night. And when dawn broke, she and her body were no longer inside a coffin but in a field. At this point, she was kneeling over a skeleton, only thin wisps of hair and tattered dress clothes left beside the bones of her body.

“Oh, you brave beautiful girl,” she murmured to it. “You tried so hard. And you did so well.” She leaned over and gave the bones a kiss on the forehead and was shocked to realize she was still able to speak and feel.

“It’s alright now,” she heard a voice say. She felt dizzy. There was something familiar about the voice, about how when his hair grew too long it’d fall in his eyes, but she ignored it, still staring at her corpse.

“I can’t forget her. What will happen if I do? She was a wife, a mother. I lived a life and all that went into it, every laugh, every tear, made me who I am. I can’t forget!” she said.

There was a feeling of warmth to one side. She realized she had an arm and something had touched it. A voice came again, “You were a beautiful brave girl and you still are. Don’t be scared. Look. Look at her.”

She looked. An unkempt shrub grew near the skull, with some of its evergreen branches supporting it like a pillow. She reached out towards it, plucking a bit off. Its scent enveloped her.

“Rosemary,” she said, stroking its needle like leaves. “I know you. I know your smell.” She breathed in deeply and remembered.


She remembered everything. 


This blog post is part of the fabulous Magaly Guerrero's Witches In Fiction 2015: Death Rites and Remembrances blog party. Fly over to the main party page and check out some of the other great posts.


33 comments:

  1. This beautiful and chilling at the same time. Great post! I'm stopping by from Magalys gathering. http://lovelightandwine.blogspot.com/2015/10/death-rites-remembrance-witches-in.html

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    1. Thank you. There was definitely an unsettling aspect to this, but I am glad the beauty came through.

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  2. I love that you chose this alternate point of view, that of the dead one herself--it is very compelling--you give it just the right touch of detachment--which surely the dead must feel, if they feel anything---from the past to paint a distancing from life, a slow sense of it falling away like the bodily shell, lost in the mists of unlife, yet then bring us to the things that matter, that will finally bring a passage to the next plane--or so I read in the return of feeling and warmth at a touch and the rosemary (for remembrance, and also one of the cleanest smells there is)--it reminds me of the Greek concept of the two bodies of water in the underworld from which the dead may drink--Lethe for forgetfulness of all they knew in life, and the pool of Mnemosyne, to remember it all instead. Enjoyed this very much.

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    1. It was an odd perspective to take, but I'm glad I went with it. I wracked my brain for how to best approach the party theme once Magaly announced it, and after thinking about it for a couple of days, the idea of the departed's point of view seemed like a perfect vehicle.

      The Greek myth was not in my mind when I wrote this (although I loved those stories so much as a child - I think I need to revisit them again!), but I can see that connection. Yes, the protagonist would definitely choose Mnemosyne and gladly remember the bad if only she could hold on to the good.

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  3. There is so much in this piece to love! I really liked that you led her through the whole decomposition process, a letting go of the physical.I could feel her pain when she talked about how hard she had tried. Her insistence that she needed to remember it all that led to the discovery of the rosemary. Beautifully written, Rommy!

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    1. Thanks Sharon. I'm glad a bit of that came through.

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  4. Rosemary for remembrance. How long do the dead remember is a question many living ask.

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    1. Yes, I think many wonder that as well.

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  5. The story's point of view is brilliant. So it the pacing. I love that as I read, I knew just enough to keep me wanting to know more. Your used of symbolism kept me nodding and smiling--rosemary and memory go so well together. And the ending was completely satisfying. Now, like the selfish reader that I am, I want more. ♥

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    1. Ha! You always want more! I suppose I shall have to go out and have a good think on it then.

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    2. What can I say? I can never get enough of a great thing. ;-)

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  6. Rommy, this is such a work of the heart. You have captured some of what I experienced with the departed in my work. I love this perspective. Perfect and chilling too. xoxo Oma Linda

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    1. I am honored to have you say that Oma Linda. Thanks. :)

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  7. I loved that you used rosemary in this to connect our senses with your writing. It is my herb of choice. This was very intense! Also thank you for your comment, it led me here. Somehow I missed your name on the list. Brightest blessings!

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    1. No worries! I'm glad you stopped by. Yes, the scent of rosemary is quite powerful. I love working with it as well. I wish I could grow it.

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  8. You took the reader on an unexpected journey here, exposing the departed's intimate view of death and memory... And a touch which gave her a path back from solitude... Really intensely powerful Rommy! xox

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    1. I like to be a little strange in my approach to things sometimes. I'm glad this point of view worked so well.

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  9. Oh this is beautiful.
    The beauty does come through. It shines, a reminder for self-acceptance and love.

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    1. I am glad you picked up on the self acceptance aspect. It was a subtle, but important part of the process. Thanks for stopping by.

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  10. Oh Rosemary is one of my favorite scents. The transition from one life to the next is greatly displayed and felt to the bones in your story.

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    1. It's one of mine as well. I like to use a bit of it on a clay diffuser on a bit of shelf space I set aside to remember my ancestors.

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  11. Oh my Goddess...that was so beautiful! I too carry rosemary for remembrance. :D XXX

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  12. That was exquisite, Rommy! I can't possibly do justice to this piece in a quick comment, but I just have to say that you are a truly gifted writer!!

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  13. An eery and unsettling tale and a perfect fit to the theme of the party. Sad and not altogether pleasant, which was also part of what there was to enjoy. Nicely done, Rommy, and thank you for sharing that with us.

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    1. Thanks Ben. It was meant to be a bit of a squirmy read, and I'm glad I accomplished that,

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